The Worst Case of Being Misunderstood

Ever been misunderstood? I’m not asking have you ever had a misunderstanding. I’m talking about being mislabeled, mischarged, or mispegged to the point that trust was broken. In some cases, these events lead to years of damage and loss, such as years in prison for being accused falsely. If it’s been that bad for you, that’s rough. I can’t relate to that depth of being misunderstood. But I can tell you this, that’s not the worst case of being misunderstood. No, the worst case happened a few millienia ago.

The worst case of being misunderstood happened to God. Yes, that’s right. And just like the case usually is, it was because of a lie. The lie led to mistrust. The mistrust led to the worst decision known. And God and his creation have been suffering ever since. Yes, that’s right. You have been suffering because God was misunderstood.

You’ve probably guessed where this happened. If not, here’s a hint. The lie had to do with becoming like God. (Now that’s a whopper of a lie.) The lie caused Adam and Eve to lose trust in God’s character. The choice to believe that lie in essence said to God, “You can’t be trusted.” The first person to ever be misunderstood created those who made him feel misunderstood.

So here you are. Either being misunderstood right now or thinking about when it’s happened to you in the past. Find comfort in these thoughts:

  • God is the one person in the world who does get you, all of you.
  • God knows what it feels like to be misunderstood. It started soon after he created us and has never stopped.
  • God found a way to offer reconciliation to those who misunderstood him. You can do that too, most likely. But remember, just like his offer, yours may or may not be accepted.
  • God’s character wasn’t impacted by his being misunderstood. At his core, he is love. Strengthen your core with love.
  • God continues to do his work. So can you. Being misunderstood is not your identity. Your identity is found in your Creator. Don’t believe the lie that started this whole thing. 
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Identity

Inspired by a few observations and conversations lately, I’ve been thinking about identity. By identity, I’m specifically thinking about how we find our worth, and also how we keep in mind who we are based on our understanding of who God is and how he sees us.

Today I flew home from a trip to Detroit. One observation I had on the plane today was of a man one row up from me. I’m guessing he was at least 75 years old. I was first drawn to him because I was trying to figure out where the smell of peanut M&Ms was coming from. Busted. But then I noticed something much more intriguing.

He was reading a book. The side of the book I could see was being held open by some type of clamp, something I hadn’t seen before. Being a reader, I thought it was maybe some type of gadget to help you keep your place. As I looked closer, the reality became clear. It was the end of a prosthetic.
As I watched this man, I saw further that his right hand appeared to be writhed by arthritis. This man had a lot going on. Yes, he was an amputee. But he was more than that. I saw that he was a reader, a lone traveler, a mobile device user, and a candy lover.

I wondered what his story was. How did he lose his limb? Was he a vet? Had he been a contractor who suffered a career-ending accident? Did he keep working regardless and now was enjoying retirement in Florida? Was he a survivor of a disease? Does he identify himself mostly as an amputee? Had it been so long ago that he’s lived longer with the prosthetic than without it? What was the basis of identity for this gentleman?

What should be the basis of anyone’s identity? 

  • What we do to make money? 
  • What we do to enjoy life? 
  • Who we know? 
  • What has happened in our life? 
  • What we hope to happen in our life?

I believe true identity is rooted in seeing ourselves as God sees us. He sees us as good creations, as males and females made in his image. Despite our choosing to reject him, he sees us as forgivable. Despite our replacing him with other gods, he sees us as worth waiting for when we return after those gods fail us. Bottom line: God sees us. He cares if we have a job or not, if we have all our limbs or not, if we love candy or not. Regardless, he sees us. Truly sees us. That’s all we really need to know in order to answer any questions about our identity.

Thank you, fellow traveler, for reminding me that we all have a story. We all have an identity. When seen as recipients of our Creator’s gift of life, we never truly have to wonder who we are. We can know that we are loved and forgiven, seen and known, observed and accepted. That’s a great identity.

Indifference: Get Some

My goal in preparing my heart for planning and decision making is to remain in a state Ignatius of Loyola referred to as indifference. By indifference, he does not mean apathy or disinterest. He simply means we must become indifferent to anything but the will of God. Ignatius taught that the degree to which we are open to any outcome or answer from God is the degree to which we are ready to really hear what God has to say. If we are clutching or overly attached to one outcome versus another, we won’t hear God clearly. Our spiritual ears will be deafened by the racket of our disordered loves, fears, and attachments. In such a state, it is almost a forgone conclusion that we will confuse our will with God’s will. Ignatius considered this state of indifference to be spiritual freedom. If we are truly free, he argued, we wouldn’t worry about whether we are healthy or sick, rich or poor. It shouldn’t even matter whether we have a long life or a short one…Arriving at this place of interior indifference and trusting that God’s will is good — no matter the outcome — is no small task. We are attached to all kinds of secondary things — titles, positions, honors, places, persons, security, and the opinions of others. When these attachments are excessive, they become disordered attachments, or disordered loves, that push God out of the center of our life and become core to our identity. (The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Peter Scazzero, p195-196)

With this definition of indifference, here are some practical questions to test your indifference:

  1. If you’re unmarried, are you indifferent towards God’s marital plans for you?
  2. If you’re a parent, are you indifferent to God’s future for your children?
  3. If you’re a leader, are you indifferent to God’s vision for your business/ministry/home?
  4. If you’re close to retiring, are you indifferent to God’s next for you?
  5. If you’re in high school or college, are you indifferent to God’s career path for you?
  6. If you’re employed, are you indifferent to waiting on God for a promotion, recognition, or pay increase?
  7. If you’re unemployed, are you indifferent to God’s timing?
  8. If you’re unhappy, are you indifferent to what God offers as the way to joy?

If you don’t have indifference, what would it take to get some?

Random Statements Re: Identity

At your core, you are who God says you are.

Your job title is what you do not who you are.

Your bank account balance is what you have not who you are nor what you’re worth.

Your relationship status and history reveal your choices based on who you believe you are.

Anytime you identify yourself different from God’s identity of you, you may face hardship, confusion or regret.

When you wake up to a misplaced identity crisis, correction is as close as a prayer.

Adopted Forever

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:3-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Our church has a partnership with Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. They do tremendous work for children in need in our state as well as around the world. Check out their website.

They have a celebratory phrase they use when they have been able to facilitate a successful adoption. They say the child has found their forever family. The first time I heard that phrase several things came to my mind:

  • That child is safe
  • That child is accepted
  • That child’s future is restored
  • That child can rest
  • That child is secure
  • That child’s wait is over
  • That child can be forever satisfied

Take those thoughts and apply them to the spiritual truth and promise of being adopted by God. They are deepened when you read that He decided to adopt us long, long ago.

I’ve been thinking lately about identity. Knowing one identity I have is an adopted son of God is simply amazing. And that identity is forever. How blessed! What peace!